King hails progress on disability rights

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Niem Ch­heng

KING Norodom Si­ha­moni and Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen marked t he In­ter­na­tiona l Day of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties on Mon­day by cel­e­brat­ing the progress made in Cam­bo­dia on dis­abilit y r ig hts.

De­cem­ber 3 was the 36th an­niver­sary of the In­ter­na­tional Day of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties, while Cam­bo­dia also marked the 20th an­niver­sary of the Cam­bo­dian Day for Peo­ple with Dis­abil­i­ties.

To com­mem­o­rate the oc­ca­sion, King Norodom Si­ha­moni is­sued a state­ment pro­mot­ing tol­er­ance and un­der­stand­ing among all peo­ple, while also cel­e­brat­ing the ad­vances Cam­bo­dia had made in sup­port­ing those with dis­abil­i­ties.

“This an­nual event aims to en­cour­age ev­ery Cam­bo­dian per­son not to dis­crim­i­nate against any­one with a disability, as well as pro­mote tol­er­ance of ev­ery­one re­gard­less of colour, so­cial sta­tus, or po­lit­i­cal ten­dency.

“I am happy to see how ac­tions by both state and pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions have al­lowed those with dis­abil­i­ties to take part in all sec­tors of Cam­bo­dian so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing pol­i­tics,” the state­ment said.

Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen is­sued a four-page state­ment of his own on Mon­day, de­tail­ing the achieve­ments of his gov­ern­ment on this is­sue, as well as the ef­forts made to con­tinue to im­prove the rights and op­por­tu­ni­ties of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

The prime min­is­ter’s state­ment cited 2,839 peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who have been hired across 40 state in­sti­tu­tions through­out 2018, while more than 60,000 stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties are cur­rently en­rolled in ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions across Cam­bo­dia – from kinder­garten to univer­sity level.

He also said that 28,000 peo­ple had re­ceived phys­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices, while 363 with dis­abil­i­ties had re­ceived vo­ca­tional train­ing this year. There are also a re­ported 70 NGOs cur­rently work­ing with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in Cam­bo­dia.

“The gov­ern­ment is very mo­ti­vated to re­move ob­sta­cles from peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and give them the op­por­tu­ni­ties to suc­ceed. We aim to cre­ate an at­mos­phere in which peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties are ap­pre­ci­ated, and where the use of bad and in­sult­ing words against them is not tol­er­ated,” he said.

Based on 2013 fig­ures re­leased by the Min­istry of Plan­ning, there are a re­ported 500,000 peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties in Cam­bo­dia – though the ac­tual num­ber is likely higher as sta­tis­tics re­main un­re­li­able.

Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of Disability Ac­tion Coun­cil, Em Chan Makara, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was host­ing an event this Thurs­day to mark the In­ter­na­tional Day of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties, fea­tur­ing more than 3,000 par­tic­i­pants, most of whom have dis­abil­i­ties.

He said there had been a lot of im­prove­ment in elim­i­nat­ing disability dis­crim­i­na­tion since 2009 when Cam­bo­dia of­fi­cially rat­i­fied the UN’s Con­ven­tion on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties and con­se­quently cre­ated the Law on the Pro­tec­tion and the Pro­mo­tion of the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties.

“Be­fore the law was adopted, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties were ig­nored and so­ci­ety did not value them. We used to hear the mock­ing words re­fer- ring to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. They felt dis­crim­i­nated against and un­val­ued by so­ci­ety. Now, we are hear­ing these words less and less,” he said.

Em Chan Makara also high­lighted that em­ploy­ment of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties across the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors had al­most met the two per cent tar­get set by the gov­ern­ment. As of this year, 1.93 per cent of Cam­bo­dia’s work­force is made up of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

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